General Motors (GM) and the Walt Disney Company are collaborating on a project that would place ten Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell-powered sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in Disney-owned facilities throughout southern California, including its theme parks. The endeavor, which was announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 14, is not the first time that GM and Disney have worked together. As previously reported in the article “General Motors + Disney = ‘Edutainment’” in the January 2007 edition of eNews, the companies created an exhibit at Disney’s Epcot Theme Park in Florida in which advances in fuel cell technology, hybrid vehicles, and ethanol-powered vehicles were showcased.
The GM/Disney partnership is part of GM’s Project Driveway, a thirty-month program that will place more than one hundred Chevy Equinox SUVs into the hands of consumers for three months at a time. Beginning in January 2008, the public will have free use of the vehicles, which contain an estimated 9 pounds of compressed hydrogen. In exchange for use of the fuel cell-powered SUVs, consumers will provide GM feedback concerning the vehicles’ driveability, reliability, refueling process, and safety. The test runs will occur in Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C.
“General Motors is demonstrating its commitment to hydrogen fuel cells as the answer for taking the automobile out of the environmental debate and reducing our dependence on petroleum,” said Larry Burns, GM vice president of research & development and strategic planning. “The Equinox Fuel Cell is powered by GM’s most advanced fuel cell propulsion system to date and demonstrates an important milestone on our pathway to automotive-competitive fuel cell propulsion technology development.”
Project Driveway is hoped to help GM achieve its goal of supplying fuel cell vehicles to drivers via GM dealerships beginning in 2011.